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A cooling apron for those hot days of summer cooking

So, as a project for a class, we were compelled to find an idea to solve another student's problem. The problem I chose related to keeping cool while cooking in a hot kitchen. As a personal residence, many of the options available for commercial kitchens, i.e. heavy-duty HVAC and exhaust fans, are relatively impractical. As such, I began thinking towards cooling the cook, rather than the kitchen. This led me to ponder how my brother, a solider, keeps cool in the Middle East while wearing full combat fatigues and a bullet proof vest. The answer there lies in cooling vests worn as close to the body as possible. Many of these cooling packs contain organic fluids which only cool to between 50 and 60 degrees (for comfort's sake). Additional online roaming gleaned stories relating to the detrimental effects experienced by professional male cooks due to their prolonged proximity to hot stoves at waist level. As a means of alleviating the bane of cooks everywhere, I am thinking of combining one of the oldest pieces of kitchen attire, the lowly apron, with the relatively newer technology of cooling vests. Though aprons aren't necessarily worn around the core (one of the best areas to maximize overall body cooling), they are generally worn tight and are placed perfectly to deflect the heat coming directly off the stove. Modern cooling packs are light and compact, therefore the addition of cooling packs into the apron would add undue weight and bulk. I believe this could be a practical idea to help lessen the impact of "slaving over a hot stove." Any thoughts on improving the idea? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, how effective could it actually become?

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  • Nov 19 2012: This is definitely a superb idea. I had no idea that male career chef's are potentially exposed to long term side affects. A cooling device for cooking activities would be very helpful to any of us who cook, but ultimately a safety requirement for those who cook for a daily living. Understandably, apron's are what we all know as a protection device in the kitchen, but I think that it might be wise to go even beyond the traditional apron design. Maybe the entire front of the body can be incorporated into the cooling device as to make sure that someone who is in a hot kitchen environment all day is assured complete protection. Different levels of these cooling devices can be offered. Smaller apron's for the "home cooker" would be less expensive and less cumbersome versus the larger more expensive commercial kitchen cooling garments.
    • Nov 20 2012: Thanks for the idea, Christopher. I hadn't really considered adopting different design strategies for residential vs. commercial cooks, but it makes a lot of sense. As you point out, the inclusion of, let's say the Mylar, may prove more valuable to a commercial cook than someone cooking at home. Diversifying the design strategy could definitely make the project more cost-effective and viable.

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